Public defender requests to leave Fla. massacre suspect’s case

Parkland school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz speaks with his attorney in court for a defense motion at the Broward Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The public defenders representing the suspect in last year’s Florida high school massacre have made an unexpected request to withdraw from the case, saying the man will soon receive nearly a half million dollars from his late mother’s life insurance policy.

The Broward County Public Defender’s Office filed a notice late Wednesday saying is set to receive more than $432,000. Under state law, the public defender can only represent defendants who cannot afford private attorneys.

Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said his office learned about the policy this week.

It’s likely that the victims’ families who are suing Cruz for the Feb. 14, 2018, Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting that left 17 dead will make a claim for the money. Judges will have to determine who gets it.